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were in many things extremely dissimilar. Ardour, and even enthusiasm, in the pursuit of science, great rapidity of thought, and much animation, distinguished Dr Hutton on all occasions. Great
caution in his reasonings, and a coolness of head that even approached to indifference, were characteristic of Dr Black. On attending to their conversation, and the way in which they treated any question of science or philosophy, one would say that Dr Black dreaded nothing so much as error, and that Dr Hutton dreaded nothing so much as ignorance; that the one was always afraid of going beyond the truth, and the other of not reaching it. The curiosity of the latter was by much the most easily awakened, and its impulse most powerful and imperious. With the former, it was a desire which he could suspend and lay asleep for a time; with the other, it was an appetite that might be satisfied for a moment, but was sure to be quickly renewed. Even the simplicity of manner which was possessed by both these philosophers, was by no means precisely the same. That of Dr Black was correct, respecting at all times the prejudices and fashions of the world; that of Dr Hutton was more careless, and was often found in direct collision with both.
From these diversities, their society was infinitely pleasing, both to themselves and those about them. Each had something to give which the
other was in want of. Dr Black derived great amusement from the vivacity of his friend, the sallies of his wit, the glow and original turn of his expression; and that calmness and serenity of mind which, even in a man of genius, may border on languor or monotony, received a pleasing impulse by sympathy with more powerful emotions.
On the other hand, the coolness of Dr Black, the judiciousness and solidity of his reflections, served to temper the zeal, and restrain the impetuosity of Dr Hutton. In every material point of philosophy they perfectly agreed. The theory of the earth had been a subject of discussion with them for many years, and Dr Black subscribed entirely to the system of his friend. In science, nothing certainly is due to authority, except a careful examination of the opinions which it supports. It is not meant to claim any more than this in favour of the Huttonian Geology; but they who reject that system, without examination, would do well to consider, that it had the entire and unqualified approbation of one of the coolest and soundest reasoners of which the present age furnishes any example.
Mr Clerk of Elden was another friend, with whom, in the formation of his theory, Dr Hutton maintained a constant communication. Mr Clerk, perhaps from the extensive property which his family had in the coal-mines near Edinburgh, was early interested in the pursuits of mineralogy. His
inquiries, however, were never confined to the objects which mere situation might point out, and, through his whole life, have been much more directed by the irresistible impulse of genius, than by the action of external circumstances. Though not bred to the sea, he is well known to have studied the principles of naval war with unexampled success; and though not exercising the profession of arms, he has viewed every country through which he has passed with the eye of a soldier as well as a geologist. The interest he took in studying the surface no less than the interior of the earth; his extensive information in most branches of natural history; a mind of great resource, and great readiness of invention; made him, to Dr Hutton, an invaluable friend and coadjutor. It cannot be doubted, that, in many parts, the system of the latter has had great obligations to the ingenuity of the former, though the unreserved intercourse of friendship, and the adjustments produced by mutual suggestion, might render those parts undistinguishable even by the authors themselves. Mr Clerk's pencil was ever at the command of his friend, and has certainly rendered him most essential service.
But it was not to philosophers and men of science only that Dr Hutton's conversation was agreeable. He was little known, indeed, in general company, and had no great relish for the enjoy
ment which it affords; yet he was fond of domestic society, and took great delight in a few private circles, where several excellent and accomplished individuals of both sexes thought themselves happy to be reckoned in the number of his friends. In one or other of these, he was accustomed almost every evening to seek relaxation from the studies of the day, and found always the most cordial welcome. A brighter tint of gaiety and cheerfulness spread itself over every countenance when the Doctor entered the room; and the philosopher who had just descended from the sublimest speculations of metaphysics, or risen from the deepest researches of geology, seated himself at the tea-table, as much disengaged from thought, as cheerful and gay, as the youngest of the company. These parties were delightful, and, by all who have had the happiness to be present at them, will never cease to be remembered with pleasure.
He used also regularly to unbend himself with a few friends, in the little society alluded to in Pro fessor Stewart's Life of Mr Smith, and usually known by the name of the Oyster Club. This club met weekly; the original members of it were Mr Smith, Dr Black, and Dr Hutton, and round them was soon formed a knot of those who knew how to value the familiar and social converse of these illustrious men. As all the three possessed great talents, enlarged views, and extensive infor
mation, without any of the stateliness and formality which men of letters think it sometimes necessary to affect; as they were all three easily amused,-were equally prepared to speak and to listen,-and as the sincerity of their friendship had never been darkened by the least shade of envy; it would be hard to find an example, where every thing favourable to good society was more perfectly united, and every thing adverse more entirely excluded. The conversation was always free, often scientific, but never didactic or disputatious; and as this club was much the resort of the strangers who visited Edinburgh, from any object connected with art or with science, it derived from thence an extraordinary degree of variety and interest. It is matter of real regret that it has been unable to survive its founders.
The simplicity of manner that has been already remarked as so strikingly exemplified in Dr Hutton, was but a part of an extreme disinterestedness which manifested itself in every thing he did. He was upright, candid, and sincere; strongly attached to his friends; ready to sacrifice any thing to assist them; humane and charitable. He set no great value on money, or, perhaps, to speak properly, he set on it no more than its true value; yet, owing to the moderation of his manner of life, and the ability with which his friend Mr Davie conducted their joint concerns, he acquired considerable wealth.